Interview: Mumi

First few basic questions, who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?

I’m Mumi. I’m a language teacher and a self-taught collagist. I live in Villa Gesell, Argentina, a beautiful seaside resort city. I live a couple of blocks from the beach but I can still smell the salty breeze when I do some gardening or hear the sound of the high-tide waves at night. I’m also surrounded by tall pine trees which I can see from my studio window. So if you ask me where I get inspiration from, I’d say nature and the sea.

How did you start to do collages? What was the first thing that really caught your attention and made you want to try it out?

I started in the collage world when I was 13-14 years old. I remember making personalized greeting cards for my friends and family. Each card had a special wink as I wanted them to have a unique gift that pictured the bond between us. As a teenager, I was really drawn to graphic design. I collected discoteque flyers, magazines, and maps from all over the world. As the years went by, I tried different artistic branches – from woodcarving, ceramics, serigraphy, and graphic design to piano and guitar lessons. I didn’t succeed at any but at least I tried!

Before the Pandemic outbreak, I bought myself a cutting board – as if I sensed I’d be locked up for a long time and I’d need a new hobby to spend hours in solitude! This time of confinement gave me the opportunity to focus on collage; and it was a very deep self-exploration tool for me which I think came out naturally.

“There are endless possibilities when I cut an image. I take it out of its context, its direct meaning or its origin and I give it a new surreal environment.”

Why do you do collages? What does the medium give to you?

It gives me peace and freedom. There are no boundaries in the collage world. What I love about making Collage Art is that I never know what the result is going to be, I truly enjoy the organic process in which I let myself go intuitively. There are endless possibilities when I cut an image. I take it out of its context, its direct meaning or its origin and I give it a new surreal environment. Once the piece is finished, I stare at it, I compare it with my previous collage and try to find a link between them.

What do you think are the best and worst things in collaging and the creative process?

I have a rather structured personality so collaging allows me to step out of my comfort zone. I don’t do sketches nor have I an idea in mind previous to the artwork process. It’s like opening a surprise box.
And the worst thing is that I don’t have enough time!

What are your favorite source materials, or do you like the challenge of working with something new?

I like using images from old nature encyclopedias, vintage magazines/paper and classical paintings and portraits for my projects. I love working with drawings from famous explorers such as Ernst Haeckel, Alexander von Humboldt and Albertus Seba. Fortunately, I’ve inherited a huge library from my father, who was a poet and writer, so I have plenty of source materials. I’m currently working with analog, mixed and digital collages. And yes, I like the challenge of trying new techniques as I get bored easily. I’d like to experiment with fabrics, threads, dried leaves and flowers in the near future.

In your artworks, what are the most important things/elements to yourself? Do you have certain things that you notice to pay more attention to, like shapes/forms, content?

I work intuitively. The elements that I consider most relevant are color, nature, the absurd, fantasy and the overlapping of styles. Right now I’m super drawn to nature images (from insects or birds to sea creatures) and I love mixing them with classic or modern portraits.

What kind of connection there is between your message and the actual way you create your art?

I try to express my sensitivity and need to explore art as a form of self-knowledge. I’m surprised where each piece takes me, and I see how from something external, I arrive at something very personal and intimate. It’s therapeutic. I believe that imagination and the desire to experiment are the only limits to achieve the final piece. Plus I like to think each collage tells a story.

Do you work on multiple collages at the same time or simply focus on one?

I focus on one collage at a time. It usually takes me 2 hours tops to finish. The hardest part is finding the material I want to use in my collage. I select a primary image, a portrait for example, and then I start adding the complementary pieces and the background.

How critical you are, how easy or hard is it for you to finish your collage? Do you ever get burnt out on a piece, and what do you do to keep working and being productive?

I’m extremely critical. When I struggle with a piece I know that there is an image that’s not working in the mix so I discard it and change the focus of the process. I listen to music while I’m working on a piece. It helps setting the mood.

If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?


Mumi around the internet

Instagram: @muminalab